Company Continues To Insist That Google Is Responsible For Libel On Any Site It Links To

from the sorry,-but,-no dept

Can a day go by without a story about a ridiculous lawsuit against Google? The latest is really more of an update of a case we wrote about a few years ago, where the company Dotworlds sent us their own press release, claiming that they were suing Google for linking to sites that contained libel (according to Dotworlds) against it. That, of course, was ridiculous, since Google is not the responsible party at all, and simply provides a search engine. We pointed that out in our post about it, and the folks from Dotworlds responded using an emotional, rather than legal, argument basically saying that it's too much work to figure out who was actually responsible, so why shouldn't they take the easy path and sue Google? The company is apparently now suing Google in the UK, since the UK's libel laws are a lot stricter. So it's entirely possible that a judge will find that Google somehow is liable for the content on others' pages. The head of Dotworlds claims that Google is liable here because he's informed it of the libelous statements -- but that doesn't change the simple fact that Google is not the one publishing those statements. Blaming Google for finding libelous statements is blaming the tool, not whoever is actually responsible. It may be easier, but that doesn't mean it's right.

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  1. identicon
    Mark Francis, 3 Jul 2007 @ 2:57pm

    Same in Canada

    So far that's the common law standard in Canada as well. As soon as you are made aware of a claim of libel, you are supposed to unlink from it. Otherwise, you are in a position of liability.

    If you think this through, though, Google is in a tough spot: If the material is not libelous, then they've injured the other party. This, of course, also means that the powerful get to dictate what's on the web.

    For an interesting example of suing over linking, see:

    I myself am being sued for having a link in a wiki, which led to another website which had a link on it which was objected to. When I received the objection, the link had been removed from the other website for months. I am, nevertheless, being sued for it. Even worse, this was all in the context of a Green Party of Canada internal elections. I was running a wiki promoting certain candidates. Even in the UK, this would be protected speech.

    And, oh yes, the person who actually had the link? He's not being sued.

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